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75 inmates positive, one dead at BKCC

Buckingham Correctional Center (BKCC) experienced a whirlwind of virus-related news this week after COVID-19 cases at the facility quickly escalated, 300 tests had to be redone and one inmate died as a result of the virus.

The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) reported 75 inmates and five staff at BKCC had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with four offenders hospitalized Monday, May 11.

The facility’s numbers have ballooned since Friday’s report of 13 positive offenders and three positive staff.

VADOC also announced Friday the first coronavirus-related death of a BKCC inmate. Officials did not specify whether the inmate died at the prison or in a nearby hospital.

Centra’s Diane Ludwig said Friday there had been a total of two coronavirus-related deaths at the Centra Southside Community Hospital in Farmville throughout the COVID-19 crisis, neither of which were inmates.

BKCC’s rise in cases over the weekend can likely be attributed to point prevalence testing being performed at the prison. BKCC inmate tests had to be redone this week after the lab the 300 tests were submitted to accidentally sent the test swabs to another Virginia prison instead of processing them.

VADOC Director of Communications Lisa Kinney said Thursday, May 7, VADOC delivered 300 COVID-19 offender swabs taken by staff at BKCC to the commercial lab the department had been using to run the tests.

Kinney said the lab, Genetworx, then mistakenly shipped the samples to the Bland Correctional Center in Bland County rather than processing the samples.

By the time the samples had been discovered by Bland staff Monday, May 4, the BKCC tests were too old to be used and were disposed of, as required, by medical staff at the Bland facility.

Kinney added tracking information was provided to Genetworx and the mistake is being investigated further. The inmates whose swabs were taken were retested Wednesday and Thursday.

The tests, Kinney said, were point prevalence tests conducted for surveillance purposes, not tests of symptomatic offenders.

The nearby Dillwyn Correctional Center (DCC), also in Buckingham County, experienced a large outbreak in cases within the last several weeks. DCC has also undergone point prevalence testing. The facility was listed Monday as having 205 total cases of the virus in its offender population, with eight staff testing positive.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 246 total coronavirus cases stemming from Buckingham County as of Monday. A 24- to 48-hour lag time is expected between VADOC reported numbers and the figures shown by VDH.

Buckingham was also listed by VDH as having the third-largest number of cases in comparison to its population of any county in Virginia, next to only Richmond County and Accomack County.

Elsewhere in the Piedmont Health District, Cumberland County was listed Monday as having 13 total cases with two hospitalizations. Prince Edward County had 66 total cases with seven hospitalizations and two deaths. Lunenburg County was at six total cases with zero hospitalizations and Charlotte County had 11 cases with two hospitalizations.

VDH reported a total of 25,070l COVID-19 cases in Virginia and 850 deaths.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association showed on Monday 1,504 coronavirus-positive Virginians or those awaiting test results were hospitalized, with 362 of those patients in the ICU. Virginia had 194 of its 2,885 ventilators in use Monday. Of those cases, 3,273 hospitalized Virginians have recovered from the coronavirus and been discharged.